With all the controversy over the recently-completed Metro Manila Film Festival, Philippine Cinema is experiencing a resurgence in awareness as people who wouldn’t normally have gone to the MMFF took to the theaters to see what the fuss was about.
While the Festival did its part to promote local craft, and debates continue to rage over the merits of art versus commerce, there is one venue where the spirit of the Filipino filmmaker has burned consistently, undiminished and fearless: Cinema ’76 Film Society.
Nestled in an unassuming building in San Juan, Cinema ’76 is named for the year in which landmark films such as Eddie Romero’s “Ganito Kami Noon… Paano Kayo Ngayon”, Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara’s “Minsa’y Isang Gamu-gamo”, and Lino Brocka’s “Insiang” were released.
Opening their doors in February last year, Cinema ’76 Film Society is a micro cinema with the mission to screen local and foreign indie films and classics, far removed from the context of commercial chains. Indeed, the venue’s small size grants the viewer an intimate feeling unavailable from watching in a major mall, yet retains the social experience that comes with watching with a crowd of like-minded individuals.
Cinema ’76 Film Society gained its name from the year that classics such as Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon? debuted on the big screen.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Cinema ’76 Film Society co-founder Vincent ‘Ting’ Nebrida said, “The singular mission of Cinema ’76 is to create a new theatrical distribution platform for filmmakers… at the same time further growing and developing the audience that would be receptive and supportive of independent Filipino films.”
The indie feel is apparent the moment you step inside, greeted by repurposed shipping palettes that have been fashioned into cozy couches, enough to seat 60 comfortably. It is here that budding cinema enthusiasts have been treated to wonders of cinema they may not have otherwise had a chance to see in a conventional theater.
In line with their mandate, Cinema ’76 Film Society hosts special events with members of films’ casts and crews, who gamely engage the viewers, such as when the cast of MMFF 2016 entry “Sunday Beauty Queen” graced a recent screening of their film, or last year, when “Heneral Luna” actor John Arcilla arrived in full costume. They also conduct workshops, seminars, and master classes for aspiring filmmakers looking to hone their skills.
Cinema ’76 Film Society doesn’t just hold film screenings, they give local cineastes a chance to get up close and personal with local filmmakers through special events and master classes.
So far, the mission has been a success: “Millennials have discovered it and they love watching films here because it’s really comfortable, it feels like home,” Nebrida said in an interview. “So, this cinema is really the home to indie films and indie film lovers…We show the best, the coolest indie films in town. It’s the place to see the movies that you missed, whether recent or a long time ago.”
As long as Nebrida and his partners continue to promote their advocacy, and as long as Filipinos have a passion for stories on the big screen, there will be a need for venues like Cinema ’76 Film Society.
There’s never been a better time to go to the movies.
Cinema ’76 features screenings every day from noon to midnight, and can be found at 160 Luna Mencias Street, Barangay Addition Hills, San Juan City. For inquiries, call (02) 398-1939. Visit their Facebook Page for more details.